Thursday, 31 March 2016

Two Weeks Japan Getaway with a Tiny Human: Part 1 - Tokyo

Our flight ticket was booked months before Baby V's arrival, so to be honest, Baby V wasn't included in the original travel plan. However, after her arrival, we couldn't bear to leave her behind while we were miles away. We were in deep dilemma for months trying to decide between cancelling the trip or adding another infant ticket and bring her along.

We were so indecisive because she's had a pretty rocky birth, graduating from NICU only after a 3 weeks stay. Even so, she still needs several follow-up trips to the hospital to monitor her condition. However, we were so glad that at about 6 months plus, she was finally cleared from her previous medical condition. Nonetheless, our "Japan or not" dilemma developed into other questions like:

1. Will it be troublesome to bring a baby?
2. Can she handle a 7 hour flight?
3. Why bring her? She will have no memory of it.
4. What if she falls sick? You don't even know their language.

Or, rather, these are questions that people threw at us. :P At the end, we decided to give it a try, bearing in mind that we will follow her flow and make sure our travel schedules aren't too tight. My verdict? Bringing a 11 months plus tiny human on an overseas trip like this is definitely do-able with some planning and determination. LOL. Well, at least all of us did come back in one piece. :P

This is a something like a simple travel journal that I hope can help you plan your own trip to Japan. First things first, this is a 3 pax trip that includes Baby V, mummy, and daddy. The beauty of no other travel companions on this trip? We do not need to worry about Baby V delaying other peoples' schedule, or even the possibility of ruining their holiday. LOL. So, no pressure here. :P We basically spent one week each in Tokyo and Kyoto respectively.

As the blog title suggests, I will just cover Tokyo first in this post.

Day 1: Arrival at Haneda International Airport

We arrived at Haneda International Airport at about 10 pm local time. After buying our Tokyo Subway 3 Day ticket, we caught the train to Keikyu Kamata Station, spending the night at APA Hotel booked through We only moved to our apartment booked through Airbnb in Nishi-Shinjuku the next day because we fear that we will not be able to catch the last train.

Day 2: Kichijoji

It takes quite a bit of effort to figure out the subway lines but the good thing is, with the Tokyo Subway 3 Day ticket, there is no need to worry about wasting money if you took the wrong train to the wrong place, which we did. LOL. After settling down in the aprtment in Nishi-Shinjuku, the rest of the day was spent in the room for Baby V to rest more since she was sick. Nonetheless, we manage to visit Kichijoji in the evening.

Kichijoji is located on the JR Chuo Line and Sobu Line from Shinjuku Station. With hundreds of stores located here, Kichijoji is a shopping heaven for skincares, makeups, shoes, fashion, electrical goodies, souvenirs and and many many more. If you prefer to shop in departmental stores, it's good to know that Atre shopping mall is actually attached to the Kichijoji Station. For those interested in cameras and electrical stuffs, make your way to Yodobashi Camera (one of the largest chain of electrical goods in Japan) to get your "made in Japan" goodies!

Most importantly, there are plenty of restaurants, dining bars, and confectionary shops here. With almost no knowledge of the Japanese language, we entered a noodle shop and had our first try of ordering food through a vending machine, buy looking at food pictures. Haha. The udon was pretty decent and this is the first time I discovered that Baby V enjoy slurping/ sucking noodles into her mouth. If I do feed her our food, I just rinse off seasonings using water since she is 11 months plus at the time of travel. You might want to read here if you are concerned about your baby's food during travel.

To sum it up, this place has something for everyone. So just eat, shop, and be merry! Haha.

Day 3: Tokyo Tower

Baby V developed a high fever and we brought her to a paediatrician. Read our ordeals here. T_T After her fever subsides, the only place we managed to go for the day was Tokyo Tower. The Tokyo Tower is about 10 minutes walk from Akanebashi Sation on the Oedo subway line.

We did not make our way to the observatory deck because Tokyo Skytree offers a better view at a much taller height. So basically, it's just some selfie time from below. Haha. We ditched our plan to go have a look at the night view of Roppongi Hills as Baby V looked really uncomfortable with non-stop sneezes and coughs. >.<

The beautifully lit Tokyo Tower

Day 4: Camping in Room T_T

With a sick and drowsy baby, we decided to stay put for the day so that Baby V can rest more. So the trips we had for the day were: trips to nearby restaurant for meals and M's trip to the laundry shop to clear our massive pile of dirty laundry. :P

Day 5: Ueno Zoo - Ameyoko Shopping Street - Asakusa - Sumida Aquarium - Tokyo Skytree

Ueno Zoo, the oldest zoo in Japan (opened since 1882), is a must go place if you have tiny humans with you! It takes about 10 minutes walk to get there from the Park Exit of Ueno Station. Admission fee is 600 yen and the monorail ride connecting the east and west area of the zoo is 150 yen per ride.

There are plenty of animals her including giraffes, elephants, gorillas, polar bears etc. Although Baby V slept when we first arrived, she was beyond excited to see different animals when she woke up, kicking in joy and trying to get her little hands out of the carrier.

Giant panda at the zoo

Feeding time of the sea lion

After our visit to the zoo, we walked to Ameyoko (located nearby the Station Central Exit). This is a busy market street packed with tourists, so watch out if you have kids with you. There are plenty of stuffs here, including fresh seafoods, dried goods, fruits, clothing, shoes, souvenirs and so on. So, what exactly did I bought? Wakame and dried kelp. Haha.

We were a bit late when we arrived Asakusa around 6pm that some of the shops were getting ready to  close. Nonetheless, we still manage to grab some local snacks, visit a few shops and snap some photos. :P

Kaminarimon, Asakusa

Sensoji Temple, Asakusa

Our next stop for the day was the Sumida Aquarium, located at the base of the Tokyo Skytree. Do make your way to the Tokyo Skytree Town (Tokyo Skytree Station) to visit both places! The Sumida Aquarium is another must-go place, whether or not you have tiny humans with you, because it houses more than 10,000 sea creatures, cute penguins included! Admission fee is 2050 yen for adults and 300 yen for children above the age of 3. After visiting the aquarium, we spent quite some time at the Tembo Deck (2050 yen admission fee) of Tokyo Skytree, relaxing and enjoying the view of the city.

Super cute, no?

Elegant jellies <3

A spectacular view of Tokyo city from Tembo Deck, Tokyo Skytree

Day 6: Harajuku - Meiji Shrine - Imperial Palace Garden

Harajuku, the hub of Japanese youth culture and fashion, is all about style and kawaii. We got off at the Omotesando Station and walk through the streets of Harajuku, making our way to the Meiji Shrine. This area has plenty of shopping option ranging from small individual boutiques to large chain stores. Likewise, there are many dining options as well, including restaurants, themed cafes, and street foods.

If you are not quite into all these, fret not, walk through the streets, have a brief look, and the Meiji Shrine is just around the corner. Or, you can skip street walking entirely by getting off at the Harajuku Station. The walkway to Meiji Shrine starts just a few steps away from this station. Enjoy the ambience and see how locals offer their prayers in Tokyo's most famous Shinto shrine. If you are lucky, you might also get a glimpse of a traditional Japanese wedding procession.

Meiji Shrine

Meiji Shrine Wishing Tree

Our sightseeing plan for the day ended ahead of schedule so we decided to go have a walk at the Imperial Palace Gardens. To be honest, there isn't much to see here since cherry blossoms are yet to bloom at the time of our visit. T_T So, pick your travel period wisely, either to see cherry blossoms or autumn foliage.

Day 7: Kamakura - Enoshima

The Kamakura - Enoshima area is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Tokyo city. Nonetheless, be prepared that it is still packed with tourist. :P We took the Odakyu Romance Car Limited Express Train (1250 yen per pax) from Shinjuku Station to Katase-Enoshima Station. The entire train ride takes about an hour. Therefore, depart as early as possible from Tokyo as there are plenty of attractions to cover in Kamakura. Having said that, you will still need to work out places that you really want to go because the attractions here range from shrines, parks, caves, and observatory tower to shopping streets. :P

We bought our Kamakura Enoshima pass at the Katase-Enoshima Station. This one-day pass allows unlimited use of the Enoden and Shonen Monorail for 700 yen. The Kamakura-Enoshima map below gives a rough idea of some of the attractions in the area:

Image Source:

Our trip for the day starts all the way from the Katase-Enoshima Station until the Kamakura Station, stopping along the way to visit different attractions. Towards the end of the day, we take the Enoden train all the way back to the Enoshima Station at about 4.30 pm. From there, we walked our way to the Enoshima Island. As near as the island may seem, it is actually quite a long walk, especially after a tiring day of infinity walking. LOL. So, instead of walking, we took the local bus back to the Katase-Enoshima Station after our day trip ends, making our way back to Shinjuku Station.

Note that we did not follow the suggested route as shown in the map above (pink numbers from 1 to 6), thinking to kononnya (is there any English word that accurately translates this Malay word? LOL) enjoy sunset at the Enoshima Island at the end of the day. Now let me tell you, thats not an entirely wise decision because you'll need to walk between Katase-Enoshima Station (B) and Enoshima Station (G) twice, which is quite far! So the better route is:

Katase-Enoshima Station  --> Enoshima Island --> Enoshima Station --> all the attraction in between --> Kamakura --> Fujisawa (via Odakyu Romance Car)--> Shinjuku

Another tip here: don't forget to try the famous Octopus-senbei if you happen to visit Enoshima! It's a special cracker made by hot-pressing octopus and some batter together in some iron-like giant machines, giving it a nice crisp. Smells good too, but too bad I don't have a picture of it here. You can easily locate the shop on your way up to the Enoshima Shrine by well, just looking at the queue. Haha. We waited at least half an hour to get ours. >.<

The rail crossing near the Kamakura-Kokomae Station, used as a setting in the anime "Slam Dunk".

The Great Buddha of Kamakura, Kotokuin Temple

There are plenty of souvenir shop, street foods, and restaurants on the Kamakura Komachi-Dori Street. 

Enoshima Shrine

Remember to try the grilled squid at Enoshima Island. Yums!

Let's end this post with places that we planned to go, but did not manage to, as Baby V was sick during our first few days in Tokyo. While we purposely omit Tokyo Disneyland as Baby V is simply too young for any rides, these are the places that we wished we did visit: Tsukiji Fish Market, Akihabara, and Hakone. If we were to make a come back in future, I will definitely cover these places, together with Tokyo DisneySea! :P

Do look out for part two of our trip, which mainly covers Kyoto, although it may really take a while for me to compile everything. Haha. 

Travelling with a Sick Baby in Japan
Travelling Japan: Homecooked Food or Outside Food for the Little One?
Travelling Japan: Baby Stroller or Baby Carrier?
Travelling Japan: Baby Room and Breastfeeding

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